Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Monzon v. City of Murrieta (9th Cir. - July 22, 2020)

You'd think the timing on this case might have given plaintiffs a fair amount of hope.  An  unarmed minority (Junef Monzon) gets shot and killed by the police in a hail of bullets.  He's driving a vehicle that's reported stolen, but there's no other evidence that he's committed any other crime (ever).  He tkes police on a high-speed chase, and then turns into a dead end street, where he gets blocked in by four police vehicles (and five officers).  Does a multi-point turn at the dead end street so he's pointed towards towards the gap between two of the officer's vehicles, but not at any officer.  The police tell him to "Stop" -- and he puts his hands up -- but the engine is revving, and it looks like he might be about to try to go between the gap in the cars.  So the police start shooting, killing him with eight shots, most of them in his back.  His high speed when he was in the dead-end street (i.e., pointing towards the gap) was 17 miles per hour.

The oral argument in this case was on March 31, 2020; admittedly before the killing of George Floyd, but the resulting uproar about police tactics might well have led the plaintiffs to think:  "Hey, given the facts, we've got a real chance at winning here, right?"

Except the panel consists of Judges Callahan, Lee and VanDyke.  Who unanimously find that the shooting was entirely okay.